A Natural History of What Trees Are, How They Live, and Why They Matter
By Colin Tudge
(Broadway Books, Paperback, 9780307395399, 480pp.)
Publication Date: October 23, 2007
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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There are redwoods in California that were ancient by the time Columbus first landed, and pines still alive that germinated around the time humans invented writing. There are Douglas firs as tall as skyscrapers, and a banyan tree in Calcutta as big as a football field.
From the tallest to the smallest, trees inspire wonder in all of us, and in The Tree, Colin Tudge travels around the world—throughout the United States, the Costa Rican rain forest, Panama and Brazil, India, New Zealand, China, and most of Europe—bringing to life stories and facts about the trees around us: how they grow old, how they eat and reproduce, how they talk to one another (and they do), and why they came to exist in the first place. He considers the pitfalls of being tall; the things that trees produce, from nuts and rubber to wood; and even the complicated debt that we as humans owe them.
Tudge takes us to the Amazon in flood, when the water is deep enough to submerge the forest entirely and fish feed on fruit while river dolphins race through the canopy. He explains the “memory” of a tree: how those that have been shaken by wind grow thicker and sturdier, while those attacked by pests grow smaller leaves the following year; and reveals how it is that the same trees found in the United States are also native to China (but not Europe).
From tiny saplings to centuries-old redwoods and desert palms, from the backyards of the American heartland to the rain forests of the Amazon and the bamboo forests, Colin Tudge takes the reader on a journey through history and illuminates our ever-present but often ignored companions. A blend of history, science, philosophy, and environmentalism, The Tree is an engaging and elegant look at the life of the tree and what modern research tells us about their future.
Colin Tudge started his first tree nursery in his garden at the age of eleven. Always interested in plants and animals, he studied zoology at Cambridge and then began writing about science, first as features editor at the New Scientist and then as a documentary filmmaker for the BBC. He is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London and advisor to several farming and environmental groups. Tudge’s books include The Variety of Life and So Shall We Reap. After traveling the world in search of a deeper understanding of the tree, Tudge is unable to choose a favorite, believing that variety’s the thing. He lives in Oxford, England.
“Enchanting. . . . Tudge sees grandeur in how trees exist in the world . . . and demonstrates it with fascinating stories.” –New York Times Book Review
“Tudge writes in the great tradition of naturalists such as Humboldt and John Muir. . . . Eloquent and deeply persuasive.”–Los Angeles Times
“To be both scientifically literate and lyrically inclined is a unique gift, and justly celebrated whenever we encounter it, in Lewis Thomas, for example, or in Stephen Jay Gould. Colin Tudge is such an individual.”–Melissa Fay Green, Washington Post
"Through its astonishing revelations about what is related to what in the plant world, Colin Tudge's The Tree reawakens the pleasure of those childish games [of classifying animal, vegetable, or mineral]. But The Tree is a far deeper book than this might suggest, for its author has a remarkable ability to ask fundamental questions about trees and their world--questions that, much to our detriment, most of us stopped asking as we grew up. . . . The Tree is full of . . . wonderful scientific facts and folklore. . . . Profound."
-Tim Flannery, New York Review of Books
“English biologist Tudge has synthesized volumes of research and presents his resulting work with humor, passion, even panache. . . . Fascinating. . . . Dazzling. . . . Few books are as relevant for our time as this one.”–Kirkus Reviews, starred
“In an elegant tribute to denizens of nature that humans too often take for granted, British biologist Tudge presents a wealth of intriguing facts about trees. . . . A persuasive call to action for the preservation of the environment so that trees, and humans, can survive.”–Publishers Weekly
‘Page after page of astonishing tree-facts … makes us look anew at the familiar, to understand a little more of the hidden and constantly enacted miracles taking place in the woods all around us’ Sunday Times (UK)
“In this comprehensive book, Tudge combines vast knowledge of evolutionary biology with a gift for storytelling.”–Entertainment Weekly
‘Reminds us just what we spend our lives not knowing, and all of it is not only wondrous and important but entirely free’ Guardian (UK)
‘A love-letter to trees, written with passion and scientific rigour … a pleasure to read. Tudge writes with warmth and wit’ Financial Times (UK)
“Science writer extraordinaire Tudge offers a sumptuously specific tour of the phenomenal world of trees. . . . Tudge’s explanation of how climate change will endanger trees is invaluable. . . . [An] indispensable celebration of one of our most precious resources.”–Booklist, starred
‘Tudge’s delight in the world of trees in infectious’ Herald (UK)
“Dig into Colin Tudge’s lovely new book.” –Daily Telegraph